Once and for all, here are the gentleman’s rules of tipping

Don't make a show of things, don't leave it before the meal and don't leave too much

Picture the scene: You’re at a restaurant and you get the bill – and you tip the wrong amount. Immediately, you’ll be in hot water with the serving staff but, over time, things will unravel further. Your fellow diners will gradually lose respect for you and guilt will start to chew you up from the inside. And all because you got your gratuity wrong. It is, quite literally, the tip of the iceberg.

But don’t fret, for we at Gentleman’s Journal are dab hands at tipping. Be it for a simple round of coffees, or a full three-course dinner, there are rules to live by when dipping into your pocket. So listen closely, for this is how a gentleman tips.

Don’t make a show of it

Once and for all, here are the gentleman’s rules of tipping

There’s nothing worse than waving a bunch of freshly-withdrawn notes around a restaurant like a bouquet of extravagant flowers. A gentleman doesn’t care who sees how much money he is leaving, and making sure everyone from the bar to the back room can spy your paper is gauche – to say the least.

"The key to tipping like a gentleman is finding that perfect balance between being discreet and understated..."

“The key to tipping like a gentleman is finding that perfect balance between being discreet and understated,” says André Mannini, of London’s famed M restaurants. “Not to mention giving the money you are tipping the importance it deserves.”

Translation: Don’t trivialise the amount you’re leaving with over-the-top, unbecoming behaviour. Leaving a tip is as much a part of the meal as the food, and you wouldn’t splash your soup around the table or make a scene with your breadsticks – so don’t with your tip.

Don’t leave it without saying anything

Once and for all, here are the gentleman’s rules of tipping

The tip is a personal gesture. Ergo, you should make presenting the serving staff with it a personal affair. We’re not condoning leaping from your chair and embracing them, whispering sweet nothings and compliments to the chef in their ear, but just something more than coldly leaving some cash on the table.

“Personally, I am a big fan of not paying at the table,” says Mannini, offering us an alternative, “but instead making an effort of going to find the waiter to settle the bill in private. This will give you a chance to exchange a few words, thank your server personally, and will send a strong message of appreciation.”

Don’t leave it before your meal

Once and for all, here are the gentleman’s rules of tipping

You wouldn’t reach for the toothpicks until your meal is finished, and neither should you open your wallet. This sort of conduct screams out that you don’t tryst the establishment at which you are eating, and the staff will be put in the awkward situation of trying to give you ‘special treatment’ because you’ve tipped in advance.

"Make an effort of going to find the waiter to settle the bill in private..."

“If you are under some pressure and want to impress your guests,” offers Mannini, “it is certainly more gentlemanly to have a quiet word with the maître d or the waiter – sincerely telling them how important this gathering is for you and if they could please keep an eye on things so they run smoothly.”

Don’t tip too much

Once and for all, here are the gentleman’s rules of tipping

This may seem counter-intuitive, but believe us. Your tip is a sign of thankfulness towards the staff, not a way to display your wealth, and slapping down a whole wedge of notes will come off as vulgar and arriviste. Always pay the service charge in full and, of course, don’t skimp on the gratuity, but it’s not an opportunity to laude your wealth over others.

“The fact that most establishments nowadays add service charge makes your life as a tipping gentleman much easier,” says Mannini. “This being included already in your bill takes away the effort of calculating it and leaves you to liberally add a small amount to it as a gesture of gratitude – which is exactly what a tip originally was, and really should be.”

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Further Reading